Earlier I posted some words of wisdom regarding discrepancies between income and siblings from the Money Magazine columnists Jeanne Fleming and Leonard Schwarz who authored the book Isn't It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check? Dealing with All of the Trickiest Money Problems Between Family and Friends -- from Serial Borrowers to Serious Cheapskates.
The end of the chapter dealing with siblings contained some words of wisdom that I think are important to keep in mind:
"Suppose you'd prefer that your children not end up with financial resources so unequal that they experience the jealousy, resentment, and worries described in
this chapter. What should you do? According to sociologist Dalton Conley, the more children a family has, the more likely there are to be significant income disparities between the siblings as adults. His advice: If you don't want large gaps in income and achievement between your own children when they grow up-and if you want to maximize each child's odds of being successful-don't have more than two kids."
I love sizable families, and the Orthodox world is blessed with large families and limited resources. During these tough economic times, what has been done in the past may no longer be an option. Many parents will feel terrible as it is natural to want to give equally, and I'm sure many parents will be tempted to continue to try to do the same for the sake of equality. I can even think of a family that doesn't want to push their daughter towards a different type of shidduch than the type she has been seeking for many years now, because it would make her different from her siblings.
Families that are just getting started with setting a standard would be wise to listen to my commentor tesyaa's advice from the "Hachnasat Bar Mitzvah Bochur" post which deals with a collection being taken up to make a Bar Mitzvah, complete with extras, for the oldest son of a family that has recently lost their business (the "hachnasat" part of the title was tongue in cheek as there is no mitzvah of making a bar mitzvah affair). Tesyaa writes:
A little different angle. I think the fact that this is "it is there [sic] oldest son" is a good reason to tone down the affair in the first place. I speak from experience, having made my daughter a nice (but not large or ostentatious) bas mitzvah 3 years ago. I did the same for my next daughter this year. I have (b"h) another coming up next Shavuos, and I would like to spend less. But having done one simcha model, so to speak, for her sisters, I'm hesitant to do much less for daughter #3 because I know her feelings will be hurt. If I would have made a cheaper simcha the first time, I wouldn't have this issue.
It is really hard to do different. But, perhaps it is just a reality of larger families. (And now I can return this book to the library. It was a nice easy read).